I have been thinking a lot lately about feminism.
Debating in my head about what it means to be a woman who calls herself a feminist. To be honest I spent most of my life not really thinking or questioning this.
It wasn’t until I moved across the world. Lost a career. It wasnt until I was neck-deep in a new culture and a different family without the security blanket of a 9-5 did I ever really think about womanhood. It wasnt until I gladly traded in my old job for a new experience did i ever think about feminism.
I make a small amount of money working from home. But it is my partner who makes the lions share. That provides the essentials like rent and food and shiny shoes. And things that cost money.
I have a very supportive partner. We both come from the school of love of “What’s mine is yours” But this relationship dynamic can be at times very unnerving. The play of power and identity. We both consider ourselves mostly nonconformist beings that somehow ended up living this very traditional gender conforming relationship.
I am the worst housewife ever. I hate cooking I let laundry pile up and have dust bunnies. If cleaning the fridge and being a housewife was my job I would have been fired a long time ago. It’s dull ,lonely , un-fulfilling and relaxing.
While I am not forced by a domineering controlling husband to stay at home. I am an expat in a foreign country. Stuck in a horrible job market with a set of skills that don’t seem to translate. I fold socks and it feels like a chore and never a job.
So here I am a poorer and uglier version of Betty Draper can I still dare “Call myself a feminist?
But I do call myself a feminist.
I want to feel independent. I want to be busy. I want to have some authority. While it’s not 1960 and woman’s rights have come a long way. I think – we think we are independent. We work. Pay our own bills. We make our own money. But often less money than men in the same position make. We as woman keep asserting ourselves and reaching.
But I believe the problem is now more subtle. Like a cancer. Its society, power, media, gender norms that seem to keep poisoning womans rights and highlighting and stereotyping women. What they should be. How they should act. etc
Being an expat in a very traditional catholic country I have seen with my own 2 eyes these outdated traditional gender roles being played out.
Woman in Austria are more mildly mannered. Men may cook now but it’s always the woman who seem to clean. Woman are way quieter. They act more feminine than I am used to. They don’t seem to yell or fart. Or scream or shout. They laugh quietly. Step more lightly. They eat & sip delicately. At first I mistook this as old-world manners until I looked further & recognised the men werent behaving like this.
I was raised by a strong woman. The grounded kind. She didn’t apologise or explain. She never wore heels and rarely used make up. Apart from maybe “don’t sit with your legs wide open” piece of advice. There was never another thing I can remember her telling me not to do for the reason I am a woman.
Here in Austria in 2017. In a western world european capital city. I am constantly used to seeing shock on people’s faces. For just being nothing more than my ordinary self. And saying something to them unexpected.
I get a lot of “Did she just say that?” She swears a lot. That Carmel is crazy. She is loud. She is outlandish and forward and perhaps vulgar.
The faces looking back at me sometimes can make me feel bawdy & ill mannered. Uncultured and unsure of myself.
I sometimes think should I be quieter? Should I not live and eat and laugh and swear and yell with gusto just because I am a woman?
Whats with this whole woman need a little mystery thing? Maybe I should shut the door when I pee at home in front of my partner?
Why do we have to fucking hide ourselves from men even the ones we love?
Why do woman now wax or shave their vagina’s bare. Not talk about tampons. Or menstruation. Why do we have to hide any sides of ourselves from anyone ?
I just want to be free to be me.
I guess that’s what feminism means to me. I want the same rights not only in the workplace but in everyday life.
I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want people to think I am a tomboy because I think poop stories are hilarious. I don’t want to be labelled loud. A bitch. I want to fish. I want to contour my cheekbones. Wear high heels. I want to go dress shopping and then camping.
I want to say whatever I want to say. As loud as a man. When ever I want to.
All I want is to be unapologetically me. So in honour of international women’s day just to be themselves freely. Unapologetically. Nothing less than just themselves. I want all women to feel as free as a man on the subway with his legs wide open. And never feel bad about it.